Old Cascade Lumber Company mill in Yakima closes after 103 years on August 5, 2006.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 8/09/2006
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7883
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On August 5, 2006, the old Cascade Lumber Company mill in Yakima is closed by Yakima Resources, Inc. after 103 years of operation. The mill first opened in 1903 to cut lumber floated down the Teanaway and Yakima rivers.

In 1903, Yakima businessmen formed the Cascade Lumber Company on the banks of the Yakima River northeast of the city. Small mills cutting lumber in communities like Wenas, Cowiche, and at the mouth of the Tieton River were no longer viable as the pine forests were logged off. Hauling logs by wagon to mills proved uneconomical.

To feed the new mill, loggers floated logs down the Yakima and Teanaway rivers to a flume in annual drives during spring high water. In 1914, Cascade built a narrow-gauge railroad on the Teanaway, which gave rise to the community of Casland in 1917. Cascade continued to be the largest mill in Yakima.

In 1957, Cascade combined with Boise Payette Lumber Company to form Boise Cascade, which expanded operations to include the manufacture of plywood. In 1984, 450 people at the mill processing 200 million board feet. Boise Cascade automated the mill in the 1980s and the payroll dropped to 225.

Boise Cascade became Boise and the corporation shifted its emphasis to office supplies and its retail operation, Office Max. In January 2004, Melvin L. and Norman N. McDougal purchased the mill for $3.25 million and leased it to Frontier Resources of Eugene, Oregon, which operated it as Yakima Resources. Frontier planned to close the mill in 2005, but delayed the action when a fire damaged another mill.

In June 2006, 225 employees in Yakima received a 60-day notice that their jobs at Frontier would end and that the mill would close on August 5.

Sources: Yakima: A Centennial Perspective, 1885-1985 (Yakima: Yakima Centennial Commission, 1984), 34; Mai Hoang, Herald-Republic (Yakima), June 2, 2006, p. A-1; Benjamin J. Romano, "Sawmill Timeline," Ibid., August 13, 2005, p. 1; Mai Hoang, "Memories of the Mill," Ibid., August 6, 2006, p. A-1.

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